PHILADELPHIA — The Maxwell Football Club announced Tuesday its preseason watch lists for the 80th annual Maxwell Award and the 22nd annual Chuck Bednarik Award. Five Tennessee Volunteers appear across both watch lists as quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running back Jalen Hurd landed on the Maxwell watch list and the defensive trio of Derek Barnett, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and Cameron Sutton were named to the Bednarik’s preliminary list.
The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. “Tiny” Maxwell, has been given to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell’s contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official.
Dobbs and Hurd appear together on the Maxwell’s preseason watch list for the second consecutive year. A senior from Alpharetta, Georgia, Dobbs is 14-5 in his last 19 starts for the Vols. During that span, Tennessee has averaged 34.2 points and more than 424 yards of total offense per game. Last season, he threw for 2,291 yards and 15 touchdowns while also rushing for 671 yards — the most ever by a quarterback at Tennessee.
Hurd led Tennessee in rushing for the second consecutive year after racking up 1,288 yards on the ground in 2015. That figure made the Hendersonville, Tennessee, native UT’s first-ever true sophomore to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in a single season. He finished fourth in the SEC in rushing last season and will enter his junior season with 2,291 yards to his name — only 891 yards behind Travis Henry for Tennessee’s best all-time career rushing mark.
Hurd was also named MVP of the 2016 Outback Bowl after leading the Vols to a resounding 45-6 win over No. 13 Northwestern on New Year’s Day. Despite entering the day battling a hamstring injury, Hurd finished with 130 yards on 24 touches — an average of 5.4 yards per carry — and a touchdown. With those numbers, he became the first player in program history to rush for 100 yards in two bowl games.
Peyton Manning is the only Tennessee player to have won the Maxwell Award, capturing the honor in 1997.
Its preseason watch list also announced Tuesday, the Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995. Chuck Bednarik, former standout at Penn and with the Philadelphia Eagles, is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of ’69 and the NFL Hall of Fame’s Class of ’67.
Defensive lineman Barnett and defensive back Sutton appear on the Bednarik’s preseason watch list for the second straight year while linebacker Reeves-Maybin is included for the first time in his career. Tennessee is one of seven schools with three players listed on the preseason watch list.
An All-SEC second team selection after ranking third in the conference in sacks (10.0) last season, Barnett will enter his junior season tied for eighth in career sacks at Tennessee with 20. He currently trails the legendary Reggie White, UT’s all-time sacks leader, by only 12. The Nashville native was third on the team in total tackles last season with 69.
Reeves-Maybin, one of the most consistent linebackers in the SEC, returns for his senior season after ranking seventh in the SEC in total tackles (105) and ninth in tackles per game (8.1) a year ago. Hailing from Clarksville, Tennessee, he has started in each of his last 26 games for Tennessee and was selected as a 2016 team captain by head coach Butch Jones at the DISH Orange & White Game in April. Reeves-Maybin led the Vols in both tackles and tackles-for-loss (14.0) in 2015, and turned heads when he racked up a career-best 21 tackles against Oklahoma in early September.
Sutton has started all 38 games of his career, including 13 games in 2015 in which he posted 28 tackles, 3.0 TFLs, an interception, two pass break-ups, and two forced fumbles. He is tied for fourth in career passes defended at Tennessee, recently surpassing Eric Berry (31). The Jonesboro, Georgia, native has also become a feared punt returner after leading the nation with 18.7 yards per return last season. Over the last two years Sutton has returned three punts for touchdowns.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced October 31, 2016, while the three finalists for each award will be unveiled November 21, 2016. The winners of the 2016 Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on December 8, 2016. The formal presentations of these awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Tropicana Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on March 10, 2017.